|gravityfactory.com Game Day - Scott Roberts|
|I'm not a writer or a columnist and don't even pretend to be one, but I thought I'd write about this because of the unique perspective that I have. This is NOT a "Rah, Rah" type article, but it is my thoughts and my opinions on what goes on behind the scenes. These are my own based on my knowledge and experience with the people involved. I tell it like I see it and that's how I'll write...
I arrived at the stadium at about 5pm, Teco was already buzzing with people. There were attendees for the Brian Howe concert and dozens of parking attendants and security guards doing their jobs.
Being a fan of sports I never realized just what goes on behind the game to bring the game to people.
First I had the "un-eviable" task of photographing the Firekittens to put on the web site, a few had arrived already but we decided to wait until the rest (9) showed up to take them so I decided to familiarize myself with the stadium. I'd been to Teco dozens of times, but really still didn't know my way around, so with my "All Access Pass" I set out to find out who was where, and what was what. After touring about half the arena I ran into the Firekittens (all nine) who were now ready for their pictures. Soon we were finished taking pictures, they now wanted to know where they could find refreshments - I ducked out for more exploring but that didn't last too long...
I ran into Thom Abraham preparing for his announcing of the game, but I was looking for the "Music Guy" up in the sound booth. Just moments before, I had been recruited by the cheerleaders to run up to the music booth to get him to start their song for practice. I found the booth and soon the man running it, so that was done.
I ran into the PA announcer Allyn Black, who did a tremendous job the whole night getting the crowd going and excited. Iran into Chris Vallozzi, President of the Firecats, who was working his headset orchestrating almost everything going on, I then remembered asking him a few weeks back where he would sit for the game and was he looking forward to the rest he'd get when the season started - I had no idea - both he and Kimberly Vallozzi-Eckel were working to bring everything that had been planned as well as the timing of each event to fruition. He was busy, so I bolted.
I visited the tunnel, watched the Tennessee Valley Vipers wind up for the game and take the field, then came the Firecats, I went around and patted players on the pads and wished them good game, most of them didn't hear or even see me, they were focused on what was to come. The coaches were better, they actually acknowledge I was there but they too were focused, if you think about it - this was the first time they were in these positions, Coach Bennet as Head Coach, Coach Bouis as DC, and Coach Hall and OL/DL Coach.
The game was ready to start and I hadn't seen where Thom Abraham and Damon Amedalora were working so I went on a trek to find them - it was quite a trek as I didn't how to get to their booth, but eventually I did and I watched them do the opening quarter - I left their studio soon after.
I didn't want to scream and yell into their microphones when the Cats made the big plays in the opening moments of the game. A game they eventually lost, 41 to 32.
Though I view a few of the coaches and players as buddies, I made it a point to wait a while before going down to the locker room. This was a loss, and as with any, it hurts, bad. I wanted to be encouraging, but still it takes time, it probably was still early but I went anyway. I caught up with a few on the way to the locker room, I told the that the game was over, it wasn't a game anymore, just a lesson - time to move on, there are 15 more to go, I was later corrected by a player who said "No, there are 19 more to go, 'cause we're going all the way". That was the way to think, it still is. I talked to a few more players who told me of how they could have played better or done more, players who had made big contributions to the game. But most of all I observed - the Firecats weren't content with losing, but they weren't panicked about it, collectively they knew they could and would play better and collectively they "stayed together as a team" that's what all great teams do, win or lose.
I'll never forget though, going in the coaches room and sitting with them, of course they were disappointed and dejected, but they were also intelligent enough to be learning from the experience.
This was a learning night for all of us. That's why I decided to write this column for the site - to give insight into the inner workings of all that goes on with this local franchise so we all could learn. I also want add this, when people work hard at something and fail, winners look to what they can do next time to win, while losers point to outside influences and blame them for the loss. This team from the front office to the players are winners and their work and mental efforts will show in the weeks to come.